Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Thomas Ellwood

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ELLWOOD, Thomas (1639–1713), an English author, chiefly celebrated from his connection with Milton, was born at Crowell, in Oxfordshire, in 1639. The principal facts of his life are related in a very interesting autobiography, which contains much information as to his intercourse with the poet. While he was still young his father removed to London, where Thomas became acquainted with a Quaker family named Pennington, and was led through their influence to connect himself with the Society of Friends. The change was very distasteful to his father, and the autobiography gives a full account of the persecution to which he was subjected on account of it. It was through the Penningtons that he was introduced in 1661 to Milton in the capacity of Latin reader. He spent nearly every afternoon in the poet's house in Jewin Street, until the intercourse was interrupted by an illness which compelled him to go to the country. After a period of imprisonment at Aylesbury for Quakerism, Ellwood resumed his visits to Milton, who was now residing at a house his Quaker friend had taken for him at Giles Chalfont. It was during this residence in the Country that the poet gave him the manuscript of the Paradise Lost to read, and did him the honour of asking his opinion of it. In returning the manuscript Ellwood suggested "Paradise Found" as a subject; and when Milton long afterwards in London showed him Paradise Regained, it was with the remark, "This is owing to you, for you put it into my head at Chalfont."

Ellwood was the author of several polemical works, of which Forgery no Christianity (1674) and The Foundation of Tithes Shaken (1682) deserve mention. His Sacred Histories of the Old and New Testaments appeared in 1705 and 1709. He died in 1713. His autobiography was published in the following year. Another edition appeared in 1791.|1}}